UTVs are steadily gaining traction in recent years. They are very fun to drive, can conquer almost any terrain, and bring you places that weren't possible with any SUV or truck. But even the best UTVs won't go far with a good set of tires.
The tires are especially important on these vehicles because they tackle many different surfaces, each with its own challenges. And although UTV tire design has come a long way since its inception, there is still no tire that can tackle every surface equally well. If you own a UTV, you will either need to settle for some compromises and go for all-terrain tires or go with a special tire (mud, rocks, or sand) and use it primarily on that surface.
Luckily, you have come to the right place to learn about the best UTV tires for navigating various terrains. The models I chose for this list are all proven and come from reputable manufacturers, meaning you can expect durability and toughness.
However, it's crucial that you choose a tire that fits your driving scenario best, which is why I divided my list into several categories. So, without further ado, let's have a look at the best UTV tires currently available on the market!
- Best General Off-Road UTV Tires
- Best Mud UTV Tires
- Best Tires for High-Performance UTVs
- Best Desert UTV Tires
- Best Street UTV Tires
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Buying Guide
- 1. What are UTV tires?
- 2. Why are UTV tires important?
- 3. How do different terrains affect the choice of UTV tires?
- 4. What should I look for when buying UTV tires?
- 5. Are there different types of UTV tires for different uses?
- 6. How often should UTV tires be replaced?
- 7. How can I extend the life of my UTV tires?
- 8. What is the best way to maintain my UTV tires?
- 9. Are there specific brands known for high-quality UTV tires?
- 10. Can I use ATV tires on my UTV?
- 11. What's the difference between radial and bias UTV tires?
- 12. How do I check the tire pressure in my UTV tires?
- 13. What are some common problems with UTV tires?
- 14. What does the tread pattern mean on UTV tires?
Best General Off-Road UTV Tires
1. Maxxis Carnivore
The Carnivore is a very aggressive all-terrain tire for UTVs and Maxxis' most popular model. It's a tire that really impressed me when I tried it, regardless of the surface and weather conditions. If you want a tire that can do everything well, this is the one you should choose.
With an 8-ply construction and durable tread compound, the Carnivore will last you for a very long time. The rubber compound doesn't wear fast and is resistant to cuts and punctures. In addition, these tires can carry quite a lot of weight on their shoulders. And thanks to the non-directional tread pattern, you can rotate them every way you want for an even longer treadlife.
But the most impressive part about the Carnivore is the way it drives. Although it's not rated as a racing tire, the Maxxis Carnivore can be a lot of fun on fast dirt and gravel sections. It has a ton of traction on offer, with good stability at higher speeds. Moreover, it feels very agile in the corners, allowing controlled power slides when it breaks the limits of traction. The steering is also very responsive and direct and communicates well with the driver.
Unlike some mild all-terrain tires, the Maxxis Carnivore also performs well over large rocks. The sharp tread blocks provide enough traction on slippery rocks, while the tough 8-ply construction takes care of puncture resistance. Desert travelers will also be happy to hear that the Maxxis Carnivore provides solid traction on sand (when aired down), which, paired with the rocky-terrain abilities, makes this an excellent wasteland tire.
The Maxxis Carnivore also has some excellent mud-cleaning properties, thanks to the fairly wide and deep grooves. It also provides solid traction in shallow mud and works on turf, though you will struggle with traction in very deep mud. That is not surprising since most all-terrain tires suffer in those conditions. There is a reason why special mud tires exist.
Overall, I think that most UTV owners will be perfectly happy with the Maxxis Carnivore. It's a durable and tough tire that provides solid traction in most conditions, meaning you can trust it on those long trips in the mountain or the desert. The fact that it also works on paved roads is just an added bonus!
- Exceptional traction and stability on dirt and gravel
- Very agile and responsive when you drive fast on gravel
- Provides solid traction over larger rocks
- Solid mud cleanup and traction in shallow mud
- Great on turf (but it will damage it)
- Very tough and durable casing
- Struggles with traction in deep mud
2. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 UTV
The BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 UTV is a tire designed for extreme off-road performance on UTVs. However, although BFGoodrich calls it a mud-terrain tire, it's really an all-terrain tire in the UTV world. Namely, the KM3 UTV has the same tread pattern as the company's truck/SUV KM3 tire, which is considered very aggressive there but not in the UTV world.
Regardless, the KM3 UTV is easily one of the best UTV tires currently available on the market. It's a tire that performs well across the board, with excellent traction and durability. Still, it performs best on hardpacked surfaces, where its responsiveness and agility are second to none. With a set of KM3 UTV tires on your SxS, you can attack every corner ferociously and accelerate quickly. It's stable yet fun.
There is also a ton of traction on offer – the tread pattern was designed using data from Baja and Dakar rally racing, and that shows in the real-world performance of this tire. A great bonus here is that the KM3 UTV performs excellently on sandy surfaces as well, particularly when aired down. Again, it offers solid traction, along with good floating once you are up to speed.
Although the KM3 UTV lacks the large and aggressive tread blocks of its mud-terrain rivals, it still performs well in mud. You will get reasonable acceleration traction, excellent lateral grip, and, overall, a stable ride. The tire will suffer in very deep mud, but not as much as other all-terrain tires, which frankly are its direct competitors.
I was also surprised by how this tire performed on intermediate rocky terrains – BFGoodrich's racing prowess is again showcased here. However, the KM3 UTV doesn't have enough bite for rock crawling – it's not that extreme of a tire. Aired down, it will provide some traction but will suffer on big inclines.
The benefit of having a less aggressive tread pattern on a mud UTV tire is that it will perform exceptionally well on the street. The KM3 UTV is smooth and stable on pavement, with much greater traction than other mud tires, particularly when it rains. Oh, and it also works on packed snow, the type you find on public roads and unpacked snow, the type you encounter when off-roading.
As for durability, BFGoodrich did a great job with the construction, which is very sturdy and puncture resistant. Nonetheless, some owners reported that the sidewalls are more fragile than on other mud tires in the category, particularly when driven over sharp rocks. I didn't have any issue, so call that what you will.
- Exceptionally agile and stable on hardpacked surfaces (dirt and gravel)
- Outstanding drivability on intermediate rocky terrains
- Good performance in shallow mud and over turf
- A tough and durable casing
- Excellent traction on the street, regardless if it's dry or wet
- Solid snow traction
- Not usable in deep mud
- Lower rock crawling traction
3. EFX MotoClaw Radial
The EFX MotoClaw Radial is another all-terrain tire with a fairly aggressive tread pattern that promises traction on every type of surface. It is the company's bread-and-butter model that is very popular in the ATV and UTV community due to its deep non-directional tread pattern and strong rubber compound.
Although the MotoClaw Radial has prominent and widely-spaced tread blocks, they are very stiff. As a result, it feels very controllable on dirt and gravel roads, even when you drive more aggressively. The tires also perform predictably at the limit, meaning controllable power slides are possible, though the Maxxis Carnivore is slightly better in that regard. Still, you should be driving really fast to feel the difference.
The MotoClaw Radial doesn't lack traction, though. In fact, it matches some hardpacked specials on dirt and gravel. In addition, the tough 8-ply casing has excellent puncture resistance, and the tread blocks seem resistant to cuts.
Thanks to the very prominent sidewall pattern with V-shaped blocks, the MotoClaw Radial also performs well in mud. Sure, you will need a special mud tire if you want to go very deep, but this tire is the best as far as all-terrains go. It has ample traction on offer, and its mud-cleaning properties are second to none.
The sidewall tread pattern is even more helpful on rocks and ruts, as it helps with the grabbing action, particularly when aired down. The rock-crawling performance of this tire is actually impressive for the category, as it almost matches some more aggressive specialty tires. With that said, while you will get traction in sand, for optimum performance, I recommend a special sand tire.
Despite the aggressive tread pattern with large tread blocks, the MotoClaw Radial is surprisingly smooth on pavement. Sure, it won't provide you with a lot of grip, but it still performs better than most of its competitors.
The best part about the MotoClaw Radial is that it doesn't cost very much, especially considering the performance it provides. Overall, it is a great buy for every UTV owner, as it works well across a variety of trail surfaces.
- Outstanding drivability and stability on dirt and gravel
- Very good traction over large rocks
- Surprisingly good performance in mud
- Smooth ride on pavement
- Very durable and tough 8-ply casing
- Not as good at the limit of traction (dirt and gravel) as some of its rivals
- Still struggles in very deep mud
4. GBC Kanati Mongrel
Looking for a heavy-duty tire that will match your hauling needs? Look no further than the GBC Kanati Mongrel! With its exceptionally sturdy casing and 10-ply construction, the Kanati Mongrel will answer all your heavy-duty needs on various types of terrains.
The tough casing not only allows you to carry heavier items in your UTV but also leads to better puncture resistance. This is one of the strongest and most durable UTV tires out there, yet it has a radial construction, which means it will have an excellent treadlife, too.
Owing to its all-terrain tread pattern, the Kanati Mongrel performs like you would expect when off-roading. The pattern easily handles dirt and gravel, where it provides high levels of traction and grip, accompanied by good drivability and predictable behavior at the limit. It's no racing tire, but it feels damn close to one on hardpacked surfaces.
I was also satisfied with how it handled turf, where it provided solid traction and didn't damage the surface much. It was also pretty good over intermediate rocks, mainly due to its strong casing, which kept the punctures and cut away. Sand traction is an issue, though, especially when you try to accelerate.
With that said, the Kanati Mongrel suffers in mud, mainly due to its poor self-cleaning properties. Sure, the Kanati Mongrel will clean itself from mud, but not as well as some of its newer all-terrain rivals. As a result, prolonged mud sessions will exhibit a loss of traction, particularly if you are driving in deep mud. Moreover, this tire doesn't work particularly well over large rocks, where it suffers from traction (though it won't be damaged by the surface).
Luckily, the Kanati Mongrel performs surprisingly well on the street. It provided me with very good traction on dry and wet pavement, with a solid lateral grip. It also performs fairly well on packed and unpacked snow, though you will need to be more careful with the throttle application.
- Exceptionally tough casing with strong puncture resistance
- 10-ply rated – great for heavy-duty work
- Very good traction and drivability on dirt and gravel
- Solid performance on turf and intermediate rocks
- Smooth and drivable on the street
- Poor traction and mud-cleaning in deep mud
- Not a very good option for rock-crawling
Best Mud UTV Tires
5. Maxxis Zilla
Are you using your UTV in deep mud often? Then, the Maxxis Zilla is your best option. This tire has a special tread design with huge lugs and wide groove area, which provide exceptional traction in deep mud, thanks to the digging action. Only a few tires can match the Zilla in deep mud – it's that good.
Maxxis' mud tire also performs excellently in shallow mud. It provides superior traction but, more importantly, high cornering speeds with predictable behavior at the limit. You can drive pretty fast and controllably slide your UTV in the corners without worrying about spinning out.
Thanks to the mud-specific design, the Zilla can also give you excellent traction over unpacked snow – the type you encounter on off-road trails. However, the huge lugs won't do much on packed snow, where smaller and narrower sipes are crucial for traction, along with a snow-specific rubber compound. In other words, you should be careful when driving on packed snow, mostly encountered on paved roads.
I was also surprised by how well it performed on sand. The Maxxis Zilla does not dig too much like some other mud tires, and it has good traction and speed on sand dunes once it gets moving.
However, you might notice some loss of power and acceleration off the line due to the tire's aggressive tread pattern. In other words, you will still need a special sand tire if you often encounter sand dunes, but the Zilla can be used in a pinch.
Although the widely-spaced lugs don't work particularly well on dirt and gravel, the Zilla again surprised me with its performance. Of course, you won't be doing high-speed shenanigans with this tire, but it will still give you enough grip to successfully overcome any hardpacked terrain.
With that said, the Zilla struggles with very large rocks, making it a poor option for rock crawling. It can also easily destroy turf, though it will provide you with excellent traction.
The Maxxis Zilla has a 6-ply construction that is fairly stiff, but it doesn't have the same protection against punctures compared to 8-ply or 10-ply tires. Also, the tread lugs on the tire will wear faster if you mostly use them on dirt, gravel, or rocky terrains. This is not surprising – it's the same with most mud tires, but still important to mention.
Lastly, despite its aggressive design, the Maxxis Zilla rides very smoothly on paved roads. It won't provide you with significant traction, but at least it won't hurt your back!
- Exceptional traction in very deep mud
- Best-in-class mud-cleaning properties
- Controllable slides in shallow mud when driving fast
- It handles trail driving pretty well for a mud tire
- Surprisingly good drivability on sand
- Pretty smooth on the pavement
- Wears quickly if driven extensively on hardpacked surfaces
- Not the best option for rock crawling
6. ITP Mud Lite II
ITP's original Mud Lite was a staple among UTV and ATV owners thanks to its solid mud traction and lower price. However, the new and improved Mud Lite II aims to further improve the mud traction and mud cleaning properties of the tire and does it very successfully.
The Mud Lite II is an excellent general mud tire with outstanding handling and predictable behavior in shallow mud. I had a very fun time with this tire, as it allowed me to controllably slide the UTV in the corners, even at some very high speeds. It also accelerated and braked without any issues.
Furthermore, there is ample traction in deep mud, though it's important to note that this is not ITP's most aggressive mud tire. Namely, if you are often driving in very deep mud, you should go for the company's Mega Mayhem, which has even more aggressive lugs and deeper grooves.
Unlike the Maxxis Zilla, the Mud Lite II is not very good on sand, as it has a relatively shallow tread depth of 3/4 inch and a heavy weight that might cause it to sink or bog down on deep or loose sand. Also, I wasn't particularly impressed with how it handled very large rocks, though the tire does work on intermediate rocks and ruts.
As expected from a mud tire, the Mud Lite II works excellently on turf, though the digging action will destroy the surface. Also, while there is ample traction on dirt and gravel, don't expect a high lateral grip. In other words, the performance on hardpacked surfaces should be enough to give you a safe ride, but not a particularly fun one.
On paved roads, the Mud Lite II performs as you'd expect from a mud tire – it is unrefined and not very smooth. Still, at least it has a good treadlife, meaning you can cover longer trips on paved roads without wearing the tread quickly.
The 6-ply construction is par-for-the-course in the mud category, so don't expect exemplary puncture or cut resistance.
- Solid traction in very deep mud
- Performs well on fast mud sections, with good stability and agility
- Cleans itself from mud quite easily
- Surprisingly good resistance to abrasion on hardpacked surfaces
- Good performance over dirt, gravel, and intermediate rocks
- Tough construction and solid treadlife
- Loses pressure over time
- Unrefined and noisy on paved roads
- Not suited for very large rocks or sand
Best Tires for High-Performance UTVs
7. Maxxis Bighorn 2.0
Want to drive like a maniac on dirt, mud-covered, or rocky roads? Then, the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 is the best tire you can put on your UTV. Maxxis' racing-ready ATV tire is a real gem that keeps surprising me with its abilities every time I try it on a UTV test. It not only performs well but also puts a smile on my face.
And the biggest reason for that is that the Bighorn 2.0 is a very light tire. As a result, it helps the suspension better deal with its movement, i.e., be more efficient. As a result, your UTV's suspension can deal with larger imperfections more easily without reverberations caused by the inertia of heavier tires.
In the real world, this translates into planted and stable handling on dirt, but also a very agile one. It's difficult to describe it on paper, but the Bighorn 2.0 makes your UTV feel light on its feet while remaining glued to the surface. Of course, the fairly aggressive tread pattern with slimmer lugs helps here, as it provides excellent traction and lateral grip.
The Bighorn 2.0 continues to impress on gravel, where it grips the surface very well and feels very stable in the corners. Thanks to the aggressive lugs, it will also give you excellent traction in shallow mud. In fact, the Bighorn 2.0 continues to offer that racing feel in shallow mud, making you feel like you are competing in a UTV mud racing series.
Or course, the Bighorn 2.0 won't give you as much traction in deep mud as a special mud-terrain tire, but it still offers enough to get you out of trouble. Also, while the tire performs very well on intermediate rocky terrains, it is not designed to tackle rock crawling. It will give you some traction, but if you are serious about that sport, I strongly recommend going for a different type of tire.
As for sand, you will get a surprisingly good performance from the Bighorn 2.0. Thanks to its tread design, the tire has enough traction to get you going and feels very stable once you are up at speed. It's not a special desert-racing tire, so it won't perform great on sand dunes, but it will drive fine on shallower sand.
Thanks to its grippy rubber compound, the Bighorn 2.0 performs well on the street, but the high void area and thin tread blocks mean you won't be driving very fast.
Finally, the Bighorn 2.0 is a 6-ply rated tire, meaning it's not designed for very heavy-duty tasks. That said, the rating is pretty high for a racing tire, especially one that is that light.
- Very light – helps your suspension deal with uneven surfaces better
- Feels very stable and agile when driven hard on dirt, gravel, shallow mud, and intermediate rocky terrains
- Works very well in the desert (though it struggles in very deep sand)
- Solid traction in deep mud (for a racing tire)
- Tough and durable construction, especially considering how light it is
- Not usable for rock crawling
Best Desert UTV Tires
8. Maxxis Liberty
The Liberty is Maxxis' special desert racing tire, designed to accelerate, turn, and stop like no other tire in its category. Indeed, it does; thanks to its 8-ply lightweight construction, compact tread pattern, and racing-derived rubber compound, the Liberty is a beast in the desert.
With a set of four Liberty tires on your UTV, you can channel your inner desert racer when you hit the wilderness. This tire offers traction in spades and accelerates easily on sandy and rocky terrain.
Not only that, but it also drives at speed with authority and compliance that many UTV tires lack, leading to a very stable and surefooted ride. It also has ample grip in the corners and, more importantly, performs very predictably at the limit. No wonder the pros are loving it – the Liberty is a true champion in the desert.
And by the desert, I mean shallow sand with intermediate rocks but also deeper sand. Unlike some of its rivals, the Liberty can handle African deserts very well, particularly when aired down. Its 8-ply construction certainly helps here, as it allows for some very low pressures. Not to mention it also helps with puncture resistance – which is very important in the desert, where sharp rocks are the norm. Oh, and the stone ejectors also keep smaller stones away from the tread, protecting the rubber compound from cuts and cracks.
Obviously, the Maxxis Liberty will perform exceptionally well on dirt and gravel – the same qualities it has in the desert apply there as well. In other words, you will get a ton of longitudinal traction, outstanding lateral grip, and very agile handling. Driving fast on those surfaces is also not a problem – the Liberty is certainly ready for the challenge.
On top of that, the Liberty is a street-legal tire that drives very well on pavement as well. It has solid traction, surefooted handling, and pretty good highway stability.
With that said, this is not a tire that will perform well in very deep mud. It will struggle with traction, and its self-cleaning properties aren't stellar. It will provide you with some traction in shallow mud, but again, it's not at its best there. It's also not designed for rock crawling, though in that case, it offers more traction than I would've expected from a tire designed for racing.
- Planted and agile feel in the desert, accompanied by excellent traction
- Excellent traction on sand and intermediate rocks
- Very good performance on dirt and gravel
- Tough yet lightweight 8-ply construction
- One of the best road tires for UTVs
- It might be expensive for some
- Suffers in deep mud
9. GBC Parallax
GBC recently launched the Parallax, a racing-ready all-terrain tire for UTVs with a fairly aggressive tread pattern. Like most other GBC tires, the biggest advantage of the Parallax is its 10-ply rating, meaning it can handle heavy-duty tasks, but also that it has better puncture resistance. In fact, this is one of the toughest and most durable UTV tires on the market, but without being too heavy.
GBC went the extra mile and protected the sidewalls from punctures with the sidewall lug design. However, those not only help with durability but also increase traction on dirt, gravel, and desert terrains. Another trump card the Parallax has is the heavy-duty know siping, which enables the tread blocks to better conform to the surface by stretching and flexing, thus increasing grip.
The result of all that is a tire with exceptional performance for premium performance UTVs. With a set of GBC Parallax tires on your UTV, you can experience the handling dynamics and agility of the vehicle and drive at the limit most of the time. The reason for that is that the traction is excellent, and the Parallax behaves very predictably at the limit. In other words, it's fun to drive, yet very safe.
This is true for most hardpacked surfaces, but the Parallax is especially good on dirt and gravel. There, the traction is exceptional, and the high-speed stability is very commendable.
However, GBC's latest performance UTV tire also performs very well in the desert and over intermediate rocks. It will start to suffer once you start driving over very large rocks, but that's normal for the category. Also, you can drive fast over deep sand, but the Parallax will struggle with initial traction.
Meanwhile, the GBC Parallax is great on turf, providing you with ample traction while not destroying the surface. It also performs well in shallow mud, though it will struggle with traction in deep mud. Again, this is not surprising for the category but is important to note for potential buyers.
Thanks to its grippy rubber compound, the Parallax also performs well on the street. It has enough traction to keep you stable at speed, and it can even be fun in the corners. Also, the tread seems durable and long-lasting, so you won't need to care about wearing these tires fast.
- Outstanding stability and agility on hardpacked surfaces
- Ample traction on dirt, gravel, and in the desert
- Very good drivability over intermediate rocks and shallow mud
- Best-in-class durability and highest 10-ply rating
- Good to drive on pavement
- Pricey compared to some other options
- Not a very good option for deep mud
Best Street UTV Tires
10. Carlisle All Trail ATV Tire
The Carlisle All Trail is an all-terrain ATV/UTV tire, but one that has a very mild tread pattern that's specifically designed to tackle hardpacked terrains. It also only comes in 4-ply sizes, meaning it will only be good for lighter UTVs without too much performance to offer.
Still, thanks to the large contact patch with paved roads, the Carlisle All Trail performs surprisingly well on the street. It has ample traction on offer and feels stable at speed. It also works fairly well in rainy conditions, unlike some other all-terrain tires. Its 4-ply rating is also not a limitation on paved roads.
But the Carlisle All Trail has a lot to offer on hardpacked surfaces as well, particularly dirt and gravel. I found it to be perfectly good at medium speeds over those surfaces, providing solid stability and playfulness at the limit. It also performs pretty well in the desert, though it will struggle in very deep sand.
With that said, this is not an extreme off-road tire, and as such, it will struggle a lot in mud. It might be the worse all-terrain tire in the mud on this list, particularly when you hit that hard-to-conquer soupy mud. However, it does perform well on turf, where it provides ample traction without destroying the surface much.
As expected, due to the milder all-terrain tread pattern and 4-ply construction, the Carlisle All Trail isn't the best choice for driving over rocks. Not only will it lack traction, but its puncture resistance is lower than that of its rivals, which dramatically limits its capability.
- Very good performance on paved roads
- Good traction on hardpacked surfaces
- Stable and agile on dirt and gravel
- Very good performance on turf
- A low 4-ply rating means no heavy-duty tasks
- Not usable in deep mud
- Struggles over larger rocks
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Buying Guide
1. What are UTV tires?
These tires are designed to fit Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs), also known as side-by-sides. Since UTVs spend most of their time on off-road trails, these tires have a tough and durable casing and aggressive tread patterns. Moreover, they are smaller than regular tires in order to fit UTVs.
UTV tires are designed to handle a variety of terrains and tasks, including but not limited to dirt, sand, mud, rock, and even snow. However, their designs vary greatly, particularly when it comes to the tread pattern, aiming to accommodate different uses such as racing, farming, hunting, or recreational trail riding.
Therefore, it is crucial to choose tires that fit your driving needs and style. Even some highly-rated tires that were designed for farming will be a very bad option for recreational drivers, and vice-versa. For that reason, I included various options in my top 10 list of the best UTV tires.
2. Why are UTV tires important?
UTV tires ensure the safety of the vehicle, but also that you won't get stuck in the middle of nowhere. UTVs often go to some very remote places, and having no traction is really not an option.
Moreover, UTV tires should provide the owner with high load-carrying capacity, which also helps when driving at lower pressures, thanks to the tougher casing.
3. How do different terrains affect the choice of UTV tires?
Off-roading includes some very different types of terrains. The most common are hardpacked surfaces like dirt and gravel, but with your UTV, you will also encounter turf, mud, large rocks, and sand. Since every surface has its own properties, special UTV tires have different tread patterns, sidewall constructions, and rubber compounds.
For instance, for muddy terrains, tires with deep, spaced-out treads are preferred to allow for better grip and self-cleaning capability. For rocky terrains, you would need tires with heavy-duty, puncture-resistant construction and a tread pattern with sharp block edges designed for maximum grip on uneven surfaces. Furthermore, sand dunes require paddle tires for better flotation, along with very tough casings that allow low pressures.
With that said, many UTV tire options today are rated as "all-terrain." This means that they have versatile tread patterns that provide solid traction on all types of surfaces, along with durable construction. As such, all-terrain UTV tires are the best option for most people, as they allow peace of mind, regardless of the roads ahead. Still, they can get stuck in very deep mud or sand and will struggle over large rocks.
4. What should I look for when buying UTV tires?
There are several factors you need to consider when buying UTV tires, and they are all related to the type of terrain you most often encounter and your driving style. Here is what you need to look out for:
- Tread pattern: I strongly recommend choosing a tread pattern that best suits the type of terrain you will mostly use the UTV tires on. Deep, aggressive treads are good for mud, while smoother treads are better for hard-packed trails or paved surfaces. You can also read the manufacturer's descriptions for the tires, where you will usually find information on the tread design and where it performs best.
- Tire Ply Rating: the ply rating represents the tire's strength– the higher the ply rating, the stronger the tire. Heavy-duty tasks, like carrying heavy loads, require a higher ply rating. Thus, if you have a work UTV, look for 8-ply or 10-ply tires. However, tough terrains also require a higher ply rating. This is especially true for rocky terrains, where a tire with a higher ply rating would be more resistant to punctures and cuts. Also, a higher ply rating enables driving at lower psi without any damage to the tire – great for driving over large rocks and sand.
- Size: you should put tires that are the correct size for your UTV, i.e., the same as the OE tires. Incorrect sizes can affect performance and could potentially damage the vehicle. Also, you won't gain much by putting in larger tires – UTVs are already super-capable off-roaders from the factory.
- Type of tire: today, most UTV tires are a radial construction, which strikes a balance between performance and durability. However, bias-ply tires might be a better option for some heavy-duty agricultural UTVs and vehicles since they are more resistant to punctures and come with higher load ratings.
- Brand: the UTV tire market is flooded with cheap tires from manufacturers that just emerged on the scene. These usually come at very attractive prices, which makes them a magnet for buyers. However, I still recommend purchasing tires from reputable manufacturers. You will not only get much better performance, but those tires will also last much longer and may be the difference between getting stuck or plowing through.
5. Are there different types of UTV tires for different uses?
Yes, there are different types of UTV tires designed for specific uses and terrains. Here are a few examples:
- All-terrain tires: these tires are designed for a variety of terrains, from dirt trails to sand to mud roads. They usually work best on dirt and gravel but will also give you some traction on other surfaces; overall, all-terrain UTV tires offer a good mix of durability, traction, and ride comfort.
- Mud tires: these have large, chunky tread blocks, along with deep and wide grooves. As a result, these tires can dig through mud easily, but the wide grooves also allow for better self-cleaning action. On most mud tires today, manufacturers employ special tread patterns that further improve self-cleaning.
- Sand tires: also known as paddle tires, they are designed with paddles on the rear tires and ribs on the front to maximize traction and steering in sandy environments. These can also be driven at lower psi for floating action, which reduces the sinking in the sand.
- Desert tires: these tires are specifically designed for rocky deserts but can also be used on the sand. They have medium-size tread blocks with very sharp edges, which provide better clawing action over very large rocks while also providing traction on sand.
- Racing tires: these are lightweight tires designed to provide optimal performance on specific racing surfaces like hard-packed dirt tracks. They are usually more expensive due to the advanced materials used, but they also provide an exceptional driving experience with high responsiveness and agility.
6. How often should UTV tires be replaced?
The frequency varies greatly on how you use your tires. For example, dirt, gravel, and large rocks are abrasive surfaces that wear the tread of the tire. Meanwhile, mud doesn't wear the tires that quickly.
As for the tread depth, there is no general consensus as to what is the lowest recommended. This is because various terrains necessitate different tread depths. For instance, you can successfully drive on gravel with 8/32 inches of tread depth, but you will need 1 inch for driving in deep mud or over large rocks.
But other issues also emerge in UTV tires, like uneven wear, dry rot, cracks, or any damage like punctures or cuts. All of these issues should also prompt you to consider replacement, as they can significantly affect the performance of the tires and make them less safe. Thus, it's crucial that you check your UTV tires before each ride to ensure safety.
Overall, for a UTV that is frequently used, tire replacement may be needed every 1-2 years, but for less frequently used vehicles, replacement may not be needed for several years.
7. How can I extend the life of my UTV tires?
Like with regular car tires, you can prolong the lifespan of your UTV tires by following these guidelines:
- Always keep them properly inflated: unless the conditions require driving at very low psi (sand or large rocks), it is highly recommended to keep your tires at the manufacturer-recommended pressure. Underinflated tires can lead to increased wear, while overinflated tires can make them more prone to punctures.
- Regular inspection: this is easy on UTVs because each tire is exposed and easy to inspect. So, check your UTV tires before each ride for punctures, cuts, cracks, and any other type of damage. This can help you catch issues early before they shorten the lifespan of your tires.
- Use them properly: driving fast in the corners accompanied by skidding will dramatically cut the lifespan of your tires. Sure, this type of driving is more fun, but you will definitely lighten your wallet. Also, ensure your tires are designed for the terrain you're driving on, as using them on incompatible surfaces can cause unnecessary wear.
- Store them properly: some UTV owners use two or more sets of tires to tackle various surfaces. If you are one of those enthusiasts and need to store your UTV for extended periods, make sure it's in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can cause the tires to dry out and crack.
8. What is the best way to maintain my UTV tires?
However, if you are serious about keeping them in top shape, you can also acquire a tread depth gauge and measure the depth across various grooves of the tire for uneven wear. This could indicate a problem with the alignment or suspension, which is best caught early.
Also, since these tires will be used for off-roading, I highly recommend cleaning them after each use and making sure no stones are stuck in the tread grooves. Sure, get rid of the mud and dirt since it could hide potential issues with the tires.
Finally, avoid flat spots on the tires by driving your UTV! Keeping it parked for longer will introduce a higher load on a certain portion of the tire, resulting in a flat spot. If you don't plan on driving your UTV, remove the wheels or keep it lifted on jack stands.
9. Are there specific brands known for high-quality UTV tires?
Maxxis is the most popular manufacturer of UTV tires, but GBC, EFX, ITP, and BFGoodrich are also very sought-after brands.
10. Can I use ATV tires on my UTV?
While UTV and ATV tires may look similar and, in some cases, can physically fit, they are not always interchangeable due to a few key differences.
For starters, UTV tires are generally larger and heavier and come with higher load ratings, meaning they can carry more passengers and cargo. Thus, putting ATV tires on your UTV increases the chance of a blowout or premature tire failure since the tires won't be able to carry the extra load.
Moreover, UTV tires are generally stiffer, which gives them better performance. An ATV tire installed on a UTV will bend dramatically when you accelerate, turn, or brake, which reduces traction and stability. Not to mention, the softer casing can also be more easily punctured, especially considering the extra weight of UTVs.
11. What's the difference between radial and bias UTV tires?
Although most UTV tires today are a radial design, some models continue to utilize the bias-ply design. The primary difference between these designs is the construction.
Bias ply tires are constructed with multiple plies that run diagonally across the tire from bead to bead, often in a crisscross pattern. As a result, the sidewall and tread work as a single unit, resulting in a stiffer tire with a higher load capacity.
Moreover, thanks to the higher number of plies, these tires have higher resistance against punctures and are better suited for rough terrains.
However, bias-ply tires are also much heavier, which means more unsprung weight, i.e., the suspension and steering system will need to work harder to control the tires. As a result, bias-ply tires are less responsive and worsen the ride quality. Besides, the added weight hurts fuel consumption and performance. Finally, bias-ply tires also have shorter treadlife than radial tires.
Radial tires are constructed with plies arranged perpendicular (radially) to the direction of travel. This would make radial tires less stiff, which is why they are also equipped with additional belts (usually made of steel) under the tread area.
This design allows the sidewall and tread to function independently, which offers several advantages. For instance, radial tires are much lighter, which increases responsiveness and agility, while also improving performance and efficiency. Moreover, radial tires have better treadlife and a much smoother ride on uneven surfaces.
However, radial tires are typically more expensive and less resistant to sidewall punctures than bias tires. Recent designs mitigated these issues, and I can safely say that radials today are almost as durable and tough as their bias-ply counterparts. For these reasons, most radial tires available on the market today are radial in design.
12. How do I check the tire pressure in my UTV tires?
To check the tire pressure on your UTV tires, you will either need to use a pressure gauge or visit a gas station with an air pump. Either way, here are the steps you will need to follow to check the pressure:
- Locate the valve stem on your tire, which is a small protrusion that should have a cap on it. Remove the cap and keep it in a safe place.
- Press the end of the tire pressure gauge on the stem and hold it down firmly. You should only hear a slight hissing sound, which is the air that goes into the pressure gauge.
- Read the pressure on the gauge. If you live in North America, the reading will probably be in "psi," while other continents will show you readings in "bar." Nonetheless, you can change the setting on digital pressure gauges, while analog gauges usually come with two imprinted readings.
- If the pressure is below the recommended level, add air to your tire using an air pump and then check again. If the pressure is too high, release some air and recheck it.
- Repeat the process for all four tires!
For accurate readings, it is crucial that you check the pressure when the tires are cold. For best results, I recommend keeping the UTV stationary for at least three hours before measuring since driving puts heat into the tires.
13. What are some common problems with UTV tires?
UTV tires suffer from the same issues as regular car tires. These include underinflation or overinflation, uneven wear, punctures or damage, worn tread, and dry rot.
14. What does the tread pattern mean on UTV tires?
The tread pattern varies significantly between different UTV tire types. For instance, deeper treads are generally better for loose or slippery terrain, such as mud or snow, as they provide a better grip. Meanwhile, shallower treads tend to provide better traction on hard-packed surfaces and often offer a smoother ride.
However, the tread design plays a huge role as well. Namely, mud tires for UTVs have widely spaced lugs to help with mud cleaning. If the tire has closely-spaced lugs, the mud will clog the tire, significantly decreasing traction.
Meanwhile, sand tires typically feature paddle-like treads to maximize traction in sandy conditions. All-terrain tires usually have a more versatile tread pattern designed to handle a range of surfaces, though they don't excel in any scenario.
A directional tread pattern is also very common in some special UTV tires. These tires can only be used in one direction and usually provide better traction, particularly on slippery surfaces like snow or mud.
However, they also limit rotation. On the other hand, non-directional tires can be mounted in any direction and often provide good all-around traction and longer tread life because they can be rotated in different ways to even out wear.
Finally, some extreme off-road UTV tires have side bites on the tread, which provide extra traction in deep mud. They also protect the sidewalls from damage, which is crucial when driving on abrasive surfaces.
I have been a fan of go-kart racing since I remember. It is a super-fun and safe sport where you can experience handling dynamics first-hand while racing with your buddies. But ever since I tried a UTV on a mountain expedition, everything changed for me. These vehicles are beyond fun – you not only experience driving dynamics but also do that on a very uneven road, which is all the more challenging.
Since then, I have driven various UTVs on different surfaces. It was mostly in the mountains, but that was enough to experience driving over hardpacked surfaces, large rocks, and deep mud.
And let me tell you, the UTV model does play a role in how easy these terrains are to tackle, but not nearly as much as the tires. I often found myself stuck deep in the mud because the high-performance Yamaha UTV was equipped with mild all-terrain tires.
What I learned is that choosing the right type of tires is crucial for UTVs. I rented the ones I drove, meaning I couldn't replace the tires, but if I had one, I surely would've put some mud tires on. Of course, your scenario might be different, but either way, putting in the right set of tires can make a huge difference!
I’m Ivo Gievski, the content writer for Tireer. We built our website with over 15 years of experience and extensive research in the automotive and technology sectors. My dedication to delivering high-quality content is unwavering, and I strive to continuously hone my skills to stay ahead of industry trends and provide readers with informative, engaging, and valuable insights.